The above expression presents the healthy early days of Nigeria’s democracy and politics when detailed and useful contents aimed at informing the innocent masses on how to select the best leaders was the guiding principle of political parties, party members, office seekers, chieftains and other stakeholders.
According to records, electoral activities by different political parties in those days like campaigns, presentation of parties’ aspirants, as well as manifestoes were based on positive accounts seeking to sell candidates with clear policy statements targeted at solving several societal problems without talking down candidates of opposing parties.
Nigeria’s political scenes in the country’s early days of democracy was populated by dignified personalities like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe, Sir Amadu Bello among others who are often referred to as political philosophers due to the richness of their unambiguous political statements.
Political elites within and outside Nigeria cannot but commend the political giants who took great part in the political activities both in Nigeria’s first and second republic, as several of their policy statements now serves as useful quotes which are used to define political circumstances and even resolve political and leadership issues globally.
As obtains in countries with grown and enviable democracy, politicians and other political stakeholders always pay the price of creativity and originality as emphasized in a quote of the late Nigeria’s elder statesman, Nnamdi Azikwe which says, “Originality is the essence of true scholarship. Creativity is the soul of the true scholar.”
Unfortunately today across the country, the recent political record shows that the country’s politics is currently experiencing the reverse of its good old days of healthy competition among political parties which has now been turned into an unhealthy rivalry.
Nowadays, informative quotes, inspiring adjectives and tangible policy statements are gradually fading away from Nigeria’s political scene as politicians now resort to blackmail, hate speeches, malicious comments against one another.
Instead of constructively presenting their plans and policies to the innocent electorates, they tend to dent the image of their perceived opponent, their followers and political parties through lies, fake records and reports.
In Nigeria today, the social media has really been abused by desperate politicians who instead of disseminating beneficial information, have reduced the channel of communication to a conveyer or hate speeches, making election period a crime prone moment.
Political campaigns and rallies which are supposed to be platforms for presentation of convincing propositions and agenda by aspirants and their political parties with an attempt to entice electorates have been bent to be an avenue to throw insult at opponents. The assumed opponent instead of ignoring the provoking comments and blackmail is in turn forced to respond harshly, making voters to vote for the loudest noisemaker.
Aside the blackmail and hate speeches, Nigeria was hit by a rude shock recently when the country’s President, Muhammadu Buhari substantially alleged that some politicians in the country are sponsoring the gruesome killing of innocent Nigerians particularly in the Middle-Belt to discredit his government and its achievements in combating insurgency.
The allegation which President Buhari claimed to have evidence of will be the greatest form of destructive politics if confirmed to be true, as it translates to playing politics with the lives of innocent citizens and rendering millions vulnerable over nothing.
However, in the word of Chief Awolowo, “It is safer and wiser to cure unhealthy rivalry than to suppress it”, politicians must return to the drawing board and have a second look on the meaning and purpose of politics especially as it affects human existence.
According to media reports, it is not untrue that unhealthy political rivalry has greatly played out in the past Nigeria’s political activities, and had been responsible for most of the crimes committed during past elections in the country.
For Nigeria to be on the same democratic page with other developed countries of the world, politicians, especially office seekers are enjoined to research into the problems of their immediate society, provide answers to them and make their result the focus of campaigns while addressing the electorates.
Members, chieftains, leaders of political parties and their followers must not misinform or misrepresent their candidates to avert violence before, during and after elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should step up, particularly in sanctioning any politician or political party found culpable in the area of hate speech or unethical comment without bias, while the media should refuse to be a tool in the hand of mischief makers and provide an equal platform for all.
Nigerians generally must be mindful of politicians without a clear roadmap on what he has to contribute to the development of the country, turn deaf ear to any unethical comment from them and look beyond all sentiments and biases while voting during elections.
As the country prepares to conduct a free, fair and credible general elections next year, politicians, party chieftains and leaders as well as the electorates should know and be guided by a quote of a German philosopher, Karl Marx that; “Man makes event, events makes history while history makes a man.”
- Adetoyese writes from Osogbo.